Friday, May 18, 2018



A few other designers and I have noticed a trend in the last few years: clients seem to have less and less patience waiting for custom furniture items they have ordered from us. One of my vendors came up with a theory that I think is spot on: Amazon Prime. All of us are now able to order something online and within days or sometimes even HOURS, have that item delivered to our door. I'll admit, I use Amazon Prime all the time, and I love it!
But the downside to this world of instant gratification is that not everything can manifest that quickly and, honestly, I don't really feel that it should. If a client hires an interior designer, part of the reason they have done so is to have a well curated, thoughtfully designed space that is not only a reflection of who the client is and how they live, but also one of a kind, like them! All of this takes time. Time to design the furniture item, or the room. Time to select fabrics or finishes, time to pull it all together in a way that reflects the client's taste and budget. Take this sofa that our firm HCD designed, for example. The process of designing the curve of this sofa to fit the bay window took several site visits, the knowledge of our sofa work room and a life sized template to ensure the correct curve and size. The fabric selected is one of dozens presented to the client and ultimately chosen. Once all the decisions were made, the sofa had to be carefully crafted by highly qualified furniture builders to bring the concept to life. The time it took to make all of that happen? Four months. Yes, that is a long time in today's fast paced world. But look at that sofa! I can say with confidence that my client will not only love this sofa for decades, it will also last that long. Which is more than I can say for much of the stuff purchased and delivered instantly on Amazon Prime. I guess the moral of my story is this: you can have fast, and you can have custom, but you can not have both. Choose wisely.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Getting inside the mind of a designer:

Sometimes I will be at the Design Center working with a vendor on sourcing fabrics or rugs or furniture and I will find that I have stopped talking mid sentence. I won't even really realize that I have done so until I notice the look on the face of the vendor I am speaking to. It is kind of embarrassing, to tell you the truth. But I can't help it. This happened last week while I was sourcing rugs at Madeline Weinrib. When I noticed "that look" from the lovely woman who was assisting me, I felt I had better explain. You see, us designers are really visual people, I mean REALLY visual. When we see a pattern in a fabric, or a color combination or the lines of a chair leg that really attracts us, we don't process that by thinking that is lovely and move on. It ignites a flurry of creative fire in us that takes us out of our present moment and into our heads in an instant. Suddenly we are full of inspiration, imagining what colors or textures or styles would go with or compliment the item that has captured our attention. So, in that moment while browsing through dozens of rugs with my vendor, I came across a rug I did not at all expect to like and down the designer's rabbit hole I went. Suddenly the entire room was taking place right before my eyes: colors, theme, layout, texture, all of it almost too fast for me to grasp. And so, I had to stop talking and let the inspiration just "happen". When I explained this to the vendor, she told me that this happens when she works with designers all the time. Whew! At least I know I am with "my people!" It is such a rush when that inspiration hits. For me, starting new projects can often be very difficult in the beginning. After having spent months, even up to a year on the previous project, it is sometimes hard to shift gears and think in a whole new design direction. So when that inspiration hits, it is like a charge to the new project that I never tire of.
Above is an image of the two rugs that triggered my passion for this next new project I am just embarking on.....I am inspired!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

HCD's master bath project featured on today!

I am so proud and excited to announce that our recent master bath project we completed was featured on ! The Room of the Day is featured on their home page. Check it out:

Friday, August 7, 2015

Having trust in one's firm

So this year has been a really strange one for my firm. Last year we had a record year in terms of profit and scope of projects. It was a really busy and exciting year and I looked forward to working with my team in 2015, full steam ahead. We wrapped up a large project in January and then......poof! We wrote several proposals for large projects, every one of which the potential clients went with other firms. Then we started getting less and less calls. As someone who trades in selling her artistic talent, this was rather devastating. I began to wonder; "has my work become passe? Is the service I provide to my clients not good enough? Am I not really that good of a designer?" Needless to say, my confidence in myself was faltering. After all, my work is really a reflection of who I am; a creative being.
I took some time to reflect on my past projects, the feedback I had from past clients and worked hard to see the flaws. I couldn't. I felt really proud of all of my projects and how well I had listened to and taken care of each and every client. So, I made a big girl decision and decided to enjoy the "time off" I was being forced to take. I did projects around the house and yard, spent time working in my son's classroom as the class parent, went out with friends, took my son on fun adventures, and worried a bit about income too. But mostly, I TRUSTED my talent and my hard work that has gone into building a business that I know is solid. Guess what, as soon as I made peace with it; the phone started ringing.
But not to worry, I will always find a way to obsess about something: now I have TOO MUCH work and am trying to find that work/life balance.
At the end of the day, I have learned that staying flexible and positive, taking the ebbs and flows for what they are and being able to play when you are sent time, work when you are sent jobs and live a full life always, is a lesson I will try to keep front and center.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

My first random act of kindness......

Today was the kick off to my 21 days of random acts of kindness. I admit, at first I got excited, then I got a little panicked because everything I could think of involved spending money and that seemed a bit out of sync with the notion of kindness. Spending money is fine, but should not be necessary.....finally I  decided to pick some flowers for a friend/neighbor of mine who has had a really tough year. I stopped by unannounced and handed them to her along with a hug, smile and kind word. She was delighted! It felt good to add some light to someone's day...for no reason other than I like her, was thinking of her and wanted to make her day have a bright, what will tomorrow bring?

The 21 day "Pay it Forward" Challenge...Day 1

A friend of mine posted this challenge on Facebook and I was immediately taken with the idea: do something kind and unexpected to people in your life...strangers, family, friends, co-workers.....every day for 21 days. I thought that it would be fun to blog about what people's reactions were. If anyone would like to join me in this thoughful and uplifting little adventure, I would love to swap stories here!
Stay tuned for the results of today's act of kindness-this should be fun!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Finding Balance

It may be quite obvious from the long gap between posts; I have been quite busy! With the uptick in the economy, our firm has grown in size and workload; something I feel very grateful for. With that increased workload, however, comes the busyness. With a young son starting first grade, plenty of hobbies and interests of my own, and a design firm that is fully booked for the remainder of 2014, life is sometimes overwhelming.
So when my son needed to stay home from school for a few days this week due to a cold, my first reaction was could I get all the work done that I have on my plate? How was I going to make the deadlines I had set?  Well, I was forced to, and you know what? It was SUCH a blessing! My son and I baked a cake, I read several fairy tales to him, we messed around in the garden, checking on our winter veggies, repotting a few overgrown plants, we built Legos. By the end of the day, he and I both felt something that had really been lacking for several months: balance. And guess what? This morning when I went back to work? It was there, patiently waiting for me.
So, I am newly reminded of how important and GOOD it feels to find balance in one's life and am hopeful that I can keep this lesson with me for a little while, at least.

Do you feel that your life is out of balance? Do you have ways in which you bring it back? I would love to hear any tricks you may have to keep work, life, family and YOURSELF in harmony.

I am planning a trip to the Southwest with my best friend...this image helps to remind me that traveling to beautiful and natural places restores me:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

It's Spring!

I love the change of seasons....I know, I live in California so I'm not really supposed to say that. I get that, I do. I've had no snow, save the snow I INTENTIONALLY drove to, to play in. I rarely have a day over 85 in the summer, and all the days in between range in the 50s and 60s. However, one can not deny the subtle changes we see with each passing season: changes in the light, in the temperature of the breeze, the first thrust of pale green peeking from the bare, dark branches. For this, I am ready! I am ready to expand out into the sun and the daylight and the awakening world. To greet the flowers that show their colors to me with growing intensity as each day passes. Mostly, I am just ready to embrace this new season that is upon me, always ready for the season that is coming at me and happy to shed the one I have just been through. Happy Spring!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Project complete! A cook's kitchen project that our firm recently completed.....

This kitchen was so much fun to create! We worked really hard with these clients to create the kitchen they had dreamed of for years. Being avid cooks, who spend many hours in their kitchen, they had a lot of ideas about what they wanted and did not. We were able to give them everything on their wish list, and even a few extras! Now all thats left is an invite to their next dinner party. Cheers!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

HCD is named Best of Houzz 2014...second year in a row!!

Best Of Houzz 2014 Award

Annual Survey and Analysis of 16 Million Monthly Users
Reveals Top-Rated Building, Remodeling and Design Professionals

Oakland, CA, February 4, 2014 – HEATHER CLEVELAND DESIGN of Oakland, CAhas been awarded “Best Of Houzz” by Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design for the second year in a row. The leading Bay Area residential design firm, since 2003, which is known for a clean style, energized by an eye for the surprising, was chosen by the more than 16 million monthly users that comprise the Houzz community.

The Best Of Houzz award is given in two categories: Customer Satisfaction and Design. Customer Satisfaction honors are determined by a variety of factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2013. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 16 million monthly users on Houzz, known as “Houzzers,” who saved more than 230 million professional images of home interiors and exteriors to their personal ideabooks via the Houzz site, iPad/iPhone app and Android app. Winners will receive a “Best Of Houzz 2014” badge on their profiles, showing the Houzz community their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.  

"HCD is honored and inspired to be a part of such a well crafted and highly savvy design platform. We feel grateful to all of our clients for their kind words and look forward to many more exciting projects generated through Houzz." 

“Houzz provides homeowners with the most comprehensive view of home building, remodeling and design professionals, empowering them to find and hire the right professional to execute their vision,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of community for Houzz. “We’re delighted to recognize HEATHER CLEVELAND DESIGN among our “Best Of” professionals for customer satisfaction as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”

With Houzz, homeowners can identify not only the top-rated professionals like HEATHER CLEVELAND DESIGN, but also those whose work matches their own aspirations for their home. Homeowners can also evaluate professionals by contacting them directly on the Houzz platform, asking questions about their work and reviewing their responses to questions from others in the Houzz community.

HCD was founded in 2003, and the firm quickly became known for a clean style, energized by an eye for the surprising. Designs mix classic elements with exciting new finds, and high-end selections with simple beauty, resulting in rooms that feel both sophisticated and deeply livable.
About Houzz
Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish - online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to get the design inspiration, project advice, product information and professional reviews they need to help turn ideas into reality. For more information, visit

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Day of Service to honor a man who spent his life in service...MLK

I've always had a strong sense of connection to Dr. Martin Luther King. I know, lots of people have and do. But of all the great leaders out there over the years, something about him makes me pause. Like many, I learned of him at a very young age and was told of his actions to right so many wrongs. As I got older, I learned also of his short comings as a man and a husband. And yet....I still felt so CONNECTED to his spirit! Something about the way in which he grew and developed from a gifted speaker and champion of Civil Rights to develop a greater understanding of the challenges of migrant workers, the reality of poverty for all races, and dark secrets of class issues really left me in awe. Today, so many years after his tragic death, I still feel gratitude and inspiration from his brave actions and wise words. 
We spent the afternoon volunteering in our community in honor of his life and efforts.  It helped to remind me that one day is simply not left me asking myself the question Dr. King posed so many years ago: "What are you doing for others?" More today, I hope, than I did yesterday, and even more still tomorrow.
Thank you MLK for being my inspiration.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Having the right vendors on your "team"

As an Interior Designer, it is important to have the right vendors working with you on any given project.  My firm recently finished a rather large kitchen remodel and the experiences we had from this project really drove home that concept.  Some small mistakes are a given on any large job that requires so many moving parts, lots of precise measurements and a period of months. How those mistakes get dealt with and how frequently they happen is another matter. In my firm, I work hard to match the vendors I select for a project to the project itself as well as who I think will be compatible with the personality of my clients. This is not always easy! But I have found that if I do this well, when mistakes do happen, there will be enough goodwill within  the relationship to allow us to work through it and come to a solution. But....there are those times when even your most vetted vendor can disappoint. What I have had to learn is that business is business, no matter how much you like someone. If they can not step up and deliver what you need on a project, you have to let them go. Doing so gracefully and professionally is always a must, but the firm's name is often all an Interior Designer has and it must be protected. So, I have a few less vendors from this last project, however, I have some new ones that really came through! They will be getting more work from me in future jobs. Having a vendor who makes you look good (even during those rare times when WE make the mistake) is critical to having a successful firm with a good reputation. The road was difficult, but we came out of it a stronger and more talented team. I am excited to work with these new vendors and forging strong working relationships with them.